By Laura Zuber
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East
JERUSALEM, Israel – The proposed budget for the Construction Ministry includes $25 million dollars earmarked for the building of 740 new apartments. The Construction Ministry budget includes funds to build over 500 apartments in the Har Homa settlement in East Jerusalem and 240 apartments in the Maaleh Adumim settlement in the West Bank.
At the conference in Annapolis in late November, Israeli and Palestinian Authority leaders agreed to renew the 2003 peace roadmap. In the 2003 roadmap, Israel promised to freeze settlement growth. Rafi Eitan, the Minister for Jerusalem Affairs, told local radio that Israel never promised to halt construction within the municipal borders of Jerusalem, which, according to Israel, includes East Jerusalem which was annexed during the 1967 War. Also, Israel claims that since that any future agreement would include Maaleh Adumim as a part of an Israeli state, building in that settlement is permitted as well. Eitan stated that Maaleh Adumim is an “integral part of Jerusalem in any peace accord.”
The international community and Palestinian leadership have expressed disagreement with the settlement building plans. The announcement comes shortly before another peace meeting between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Senior Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, accused Israel of trying to sabotage the renewed peace efforts. Erekat called Israel’s move as “destructive”.
In addition, senior Hamas officials signal that the group is prepared to reach a truce with Israel. Ahmed Yusef, a polical advisor to Ismail Haniya, stated that Hamas is ready to “reach a truce with Israel” so long as the siege on Gaza is lifted and Israel halts it policy of assassinations. However, Israeli Prime Minister Olmert, has ruled out a ceasefire agreement with Hamas, describing the conflict as a “true war”, and that it will continue.
For more information, please see:
AFP – New Israeli Settlement Plans Unveiled on Eve of Peace Talks – 23 December 2007
Al Jazeera – Israel Funds More Settlement Growth – 23 December 2007
Associated Press – Israel Building Plans Could Spur Fury – 23 December 2007
BBC – Israel Confirms Settlement Plans – 23 December 2007
Chicago Tribune – Olmert Rules Out Truce Talks With Hamas – 23 December 2007
Ha’aretz – Israel Expands Plans to Construct New Homes in E. J’lem, W. Bank – 23 December 2007
International Herald Tribune – Israel Plans New Homes on Occupied Land – 23 December 2007
Washington Post – Israel Unveils Settlement Plans on Peace Talks Eve – 23 December 2007